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Everybody’s Backup

Because I stay at home with my kids, I often become the go-to guy when other people need help with something.  I’m viewed as a person who has nothing to do, while a woman who stays home with her kids is seen to be doing the most important job there is.  That is certainly a double-standard that I have experienced.  My wife has even said to me, “you basically have no responsibilities.”  I take offense at that because she expects certain things to be done when she’s not here.

I won’t try to argue that my job is harder than anyone else’s but certainly it is very important.  After all, I am trying to raise two girls into confident, intelligent, caring, productive adults.  That’s hard work but when treated properly is actually quite fun.

The real thing about being home, though, is that every one who needs help automatically jumps to me because I am flexible with my responsibilities.  I can take my girls with me to get things accomplished.

What I’ve found recently, though is that people want me to keep their kids when something comes up.  An extra day of work when one normally isn’t scheduled, a regular babysitter’s kids are sick, a doctor’s appointment, etc.  I don’t mind watching other people’s kids but I want to make sure that people understand that my schedule is only partially flexible.

Having J in preschool means that she is committed to going every day.  She doesn’t start until 11:30AM, but she still needs to get there on time so that she can integrate with her peers and not feel embarrassed or shy for showing up late.

One day last week, my wife got a call from her sister at 6:30AM asking for me to watch her two kids that day.  I had planned that day to take J to school and A to the license bureau because I needed a new license and tags for the car.  Obviously, she was in a bind so I don’t mind helping and I would go to the license bureau another day.  Then came the kicker, though.  She wanted me to go to her house because coming here was out of her way.

My wife agreed for me and told her I ‘d be there by 9:00AM.

My wife told me immediately about the arrangement and I went back to sleep.  I don’t set an alarm because the kids get me up when they are ready.  When I woke up at 9:02AM I knew immediately that my sister-in-law would be pissed.  I called her and told her I’d be there as soon as I could but it took nearly an hour.  I had to wake up the kids, get them dressed and get the house ready for someone to see it.  (We’re in the process of selling our house.)

I had to pack food for my kids because they have special dietary needs and most people’s houses don’t have food that’s acceptable for them.  (We ate a lot of grapes that day.)  I also had to take my computer in case I got an email with a work assignment, which I have been getting regularly.  I also had to rearrange my schedule and cancel J’s schedule.  She couldn’t go to preschool that day because I can’t travel with four kids, all four-years-old or younger.  If we had been at my house we could have walked J to school.

I don’t expect people not to ask for my help, I don’t even want that.  I only want people to understand that although I am home everyday, I still have responsibilities, I keep a loose schedule and there are things that I need like to do everyday.  At the same time I have to keep looking for a job and/or find freelance work so that I can keep the bills paid.  And when I get freelance work, I have to get it done quickly and do a good job so that I can get more work.

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